Famous Military Units

Famous Air Force Unit – 6th Special Operations Squadron (Commando)

Famous Air Force Unit – 6th Special Operations Squadron (Commando)

To those not deeply immersed in US Air Force operations, the 6th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) may appear a bit of an enigma as Commando is most often associated with ground units. The squadron's title actually derives from roots reaching back to WWII together with hard-fought experience, all leading to a mission that's responsive to contemporary, global needs. Constituted initially as a fighter squadron, the 6th SOS acquired broad skills extending through Vietnam and beyond, keying on counterinsurgency, special operations, and international advisory assignments. Armed with exhaustive training and comprehensive combat aircraft experience, the primary role of the 6th Special Operations Squadron is to assess, train, advise and assist foreign aviation forces in the use of their aircraft throughout the world. Though initially developed and honed in the chaos of a world at war, the unique skill sets provided by the 6th Special Operations Squadron are particularly relevant for...

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Famous Military Units – 1st Rhode Island Regiment (The Black Regiment)

Famous Military Units – 1st Rhode Island Regiment (The Black Regiment)

The Continental Army was camped for the 1777-78 winter at Valley Forge, twenty miles from Philadelphia, the British-occupied American capital. At least a third of the eleven thousand men were without shoes, coats, and blankets to protect them from the constant rain. They suffered from exposure, typhus, dysentery, and pneumonia. Food was running out. Men were starving, dying, the desertion rate was escalating, and the States could not meet their enlistment quotas. Able-bodied men were simply not willing to fight. Able-bodied white men, that is. As they waited out the winter, General Washington had no plan to replace his dwindling manpower. Rhode Island general James Varnum, who commanded the 1st Rhode Island Regiment at the outset of the war, offered a solution that would not sit well with Washington. Combine Rhode Island's two depleted regiments into a single formation and send the extra officers home to recruit a new unit consisting of both slaves and free men. The 1st Rhode Island...

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Famous Army Units: 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (Mash)

Famous Army Units: 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (Mash)

In stark contrast with the mission of combat forces, the US Army Medical Corps are committed to providing aid and comfort to the injured: wounded soldiers, civilians and at times even enemy personnel.  There are no medals, no glory, and heroism is measured in blood, sweat and tears.  Though the Korean War has been regarded as a failure by many because of its indecisive outcomes, in one area it was an unbridled success-saving lives.  When the war broke out in Korea on June 25, 1950, there were only two hundred doctors in the entire Far East Command (Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and Korea).  To ensure combat medical services, Congress quickly passed the Doctors Draft Act, requiring all doctors under the age of fifty-one to register for military service.  As a result, ninety percent of all staff doctors in Korea were draftees, displaying a more relaxed attitude about Army rules, regulations, and discipline.  At this same time, the Army authorized new...

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Famous Army Units: 1st Alaska Combat Intelligence Platoon

Famous Army Units: 1st Alaska Combat Intelligence Platoon

The Aleutian Islands are unknown to many Americans and in 1941, upon entry of the US into WWII, even fewer. Remote volcanic islands (1200 miles from Alaska), barren and plagued by harsh weather and unforgiving winds make them seemingly unlivable and bear little consideration except to the native Aleuts that call them home.  Nonetheless, with US-Japanese tensions running high, as early as February 1941 efforts were underway to form the Alaskan Defense Command.  Recognizing broad strategic value in the Alaskan territories, Colonel Lawrence Castner argued that ultimate success in these regions lay in creating an intelligence brigade, resources that knew the land, how to live off it unaided and move about undetected-a perfect fit for spying on the Japanese.  Given authorization only weeks prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor recruiting began to form the 1st Alaskan Combat Intelligence Platoon, or Alaska Scouts.  Shortly thereafter (February 1942), by authority...

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Famous Army Units: 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Demolition Platoon

Famous Army Units: 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Demolition Platoon

By 1944 the tide of battle in World War II was turning in favor of Allied forces across the various theatres.  With momentum building in Europe and the Mediterranean through the successive invasions of North Africa in November 1942 (Operation Torch), the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 (Operation Husky), and the invasion of Italy in September 1943 (Operation Avalanche) a much broader front was necessary to redirect Axis forces and free Russian troops.  A keystone to accomplishing this was debuted by US forces in 1942 and would prove invaluable in spearheading further ground combat operations, the parachute infantry.  Though the US was late in establishing airborne capability it would quickly become the centerpiece of Operation Overlord, the assault of Western Europe on June 6th, 1944.  And one fledgling unit in particular would prove the most audacious of US airborne troops leading this invasion, the 1st Demolition Platoon, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment...

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Famous Marine Corps Units: George Company (G Co), 3rd Bn, 1st Marine Regiment

Famous Marine Corps Units: George Company (G Co), 3rd Bn, 1st Marine Regiment

The 1st Marine Division, the oldest and largest active duty division of the United States Marines is perhaps best known by the nickname coined following World War II, “The Old Breed”.  With a long and distinguished history, no subordinate unit better reflects the honor and best traditions of the Marine Corp than the 3rd Battalion, G Company during the Korean War.  George Company served gallantly spanning Incheon, Seoul, Wonsan landings and Chosin Reservoir, pushing the limits of human endurance, but in the final days of the war would have to fight for their lives less than six miles from the site of the armistice, eerily reminiscent of World War I when soldiers were sent to their deaths up until the final moments of the war. George Company's Gallant Service 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (3-1) was reactivated August 4, 1950 for a rapid September deployment to Korea.  The Marines of George Company were an uncommonly diverse cross-section of American society, small towns and...

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Famous Army Units: 1099th Transportation Company

Famous Army Units: 1099th Transportation Company

The Vietnam War from its outset presented novel threats to US forces from unfamiliar terrain, embedded supply practices, enemy infiltration tactics and more.  Striving for strategies to achieve battlefield supremacy the Army relied on tried-and-true practices, applying equipment and personnel in innovative ways to gain an advantage.  Without question, the single largest departure from earlier conflicts was the extensive rivers and waterways, creating unique logistic and combat challenges.  Drawing largely on experience with amphibious operations in both WWII and Korea, the Army deployed its Transportation Corps with both defensive and offensive roles.  Spanning May 1965 to February 1972 the 1099th Transportation Company, popularized as the “River Rats”, became the most decorated boat unit in Vietnam. Isrine's Motto “Hit the Beach” The 1099th Transportation Company’s roots reach back to 1953 in the form of the 159th Transportation Battalion, activated at Fort...

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